Slice-of-life stories, hilariously told—that is Zakir Khan’s specialty. A complete mastery over the anecdotal style—this is his superpower. Khan broke into the scene when he won Comedy Central’s Standup Comedian of the Year in 2012. Eight years later, he is regarded as one of the country’s best comedians, with over five million YouTube subscribers and the reputation of being a “sakht launda“. Watching Khan live is an informal, easy experience; you may as well be sitting around in a circle at a party, whiskey in your hand, while he has you cracking up about the ordeals of growing up in a boys’ school or his most recent break-up.
Despite occasionally catching flak for some bits that are too “bro-code”, Khan’s star has been in the ascendant, thanks to his penchant for marketable catch-phrases (sakth launda has its own merch line) and his ability to connect to middle class India. We pick five of our favourite Zakir Khan videos for you to revisit:
5. Zakir Khan’s War Cry
This is arguably one of Zakir Khan’s most well-known bits. The comedian from Indore details his journey from friend to “friend-zoned” by a South Delhi girl, during a performance for AIB Diwas in 2016. With close to 50 million views and over a million ‘likes’, this 11-minute video is also the answer to “What does Zakir’s Instagram bio mean?”—a question only first-time Zakir-watchers will have.
4. Sakht Bhi, Superman Bhi
Bhai Tumhara Superman is peak Zakir Khan. He begins with a hilarious conspiracy theory that he believes was designed to challenge his sakhti. 32 years later, he observes, FTV channel continues to test his resolve. In a separate bit, he then tries to decode the world of online crushes, drunk texts, and his uncanny ability to read between the lines.
3. Stereotype Wala Video
This bit is wonderful because of what Khan does with the theme of stereotypes. the comedian focuses his observational powers on a relatively unexplored character—the capital city’s uncles—which is a nice change of pace from jokes about Delhi’s pollution. He also touches upon the stereotyping of Muslims in India, in an attempt to dismantle the notion that every Muslim must also be a poet (shayar). Definitely a nice change of pace.
4. Airport Shenanigans
There’s a reason we’ve brought back this 2015 video (apart from the fact that it’s funny); How to be cool at the airport is a nice refresher on what not to do when you take your first flight, in a post COVID-19 world. It’s also a great showcase of Khan’s ability to take a situation and turn it on its head – surprising the audience with an angle no one has thought of before.
1. In Solidarity
Its Tough To Be A Man In India is the first-ever Zakir Zhan YouTube video and probably best described as a bump-on-the-fist. Khan reaches out to the country’s men, and in under a minute, reinforces that he’s just like them. In other words, it lays the foundation of ‘Bhai tumhara’ and ‘Sakht launda’, while introducing audiences to his easy storytelling style.